I have not done an independant book review post on my blog before so I thought today would be a good time to try one, as I have just finished an amazing book worth reviewing! I am going to experiment with the format of my book reviews today so bear with me if todays one is not perfect! If you are interested in in depth book posts then I did a post sumarising the lessons I learnt from Atomic Habits by James Clear on Monday so be sure to check it out here if you are interested in more of a summary post!
This book took me by surprise! I initially bought it as it was only 99p in the kindle sale a few months ago and I liked the cover ( You can see the kindle version of the cover in the featured image but I’ll also include the coloured version so you can fully appriciate how cute it is!) I did not read the blurb, nor had I seen anything previously about this book- and after reading I don’t know how I haven’t!?
Quick disclaimer: this book deals with topics surrounding gender dysphoria/ being transgender/ transexual and other similar topics. If these are triggering to you then you may want to avoid this book as sometimes Claudes experiences can be more convienient than I’d imagine real life experiences would be, and this could be upsetting/irritating so bear that in mind before reading! Additionally if I use the wrong pronouns/ vocabulary within this review please feel free to correct me but I mean no harm/ don’t want to invalidate the topic and experiences I am completely supportive of the LGBTQIAP+ community but as I personally don’t belong in this community I can make mistakes on things I don’t understand 🙂
This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.
This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.
This is how children change…and then change the world.
This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.
When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.
Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.
This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.
My rating: 4/5
Things I liked:
This book was a great, emotional reading experience. There were many moments where it was written so well that I was on the edge of my seat tense, worrying for Claude- infact I think I sat there for a whole few chapters ridgid and tense, genuinely stressed because of the point of the book I was at ( the scenes where it all explodes for the family). Frankles writing style really appealed to me, I found there was an abundance of long sentences, longer than you would usually find in a book, but to me I felt these represented the string of never ending thoughts within Pen and Rosie’s ( the parents) head. At the start I was concerned about the character development as there were so many different characters, considering how they are such a bug family, but I was pleased with all the characters and how they were built up, as I feel like we got to know each member of the family enough the understand the dynamics between them and why certain siblings react certain ways. There were no parts of the story I found were left loose, I thought the ending although not completely desisive, really represented her message she aimed to get across. From my understanding, I got the impression Frankle wanted the reader to start viewing these complex concepts with more of an open mind, with no labels. I understood she was keen to discourage labels and boxes as she portrayed these topics as non finale. Throughout Poppy felt a pressure to be either Claude or Poppy, they didn’t understand why they could not remain Claude, but experiment with ‘girl’ things like dresses and skirts in public. Throughout the end half of the book we see Claude struggle with these things as they do not want to commit to either, they feel like they have to go all the way to identify as either Claude or Poppy. The ending left it more open, which I felt was a reflection of Frankle’s message.
Things I disliked:
There was not much about this book I didn’t like but there were a few things that made it abit unbelievable? I understand how these thing were needed to stop the story dragging but at times the story felt quite convinient. Although Poppy goes though some incredibly tough moments I felt like at parts the book seemed to align everything perfectly, when I don’t think it was very realistic. For starters, Rosie and Pen seemed fairly relaxed about it from the start, in a way that they didn’t try and discourage it at all, the push back came from the brothers more. My main issue was that alot of the time, I forgot Claude was still very, very young. His journey of wanting to become a girl started at around 5 years old, and I thought at points when we were following his thoughts/speech, he seemed very mature and alot older than he actually was. So much so it seemed a little bit unrealistic. This doesn’t really get in the way though as Claude having these mature thoughts from such a young age helps us understand what he is going through. When Claude starts identifying as Poppy I think her thoughts start to sync up to her age more than before, meaning the mature thoughts weren’t much of a problem.
Who should read this book?
I would class this as contemporary fiction and suggest it is for slightly older people, so not YA but I wouldn’t class it as a full adult read, perhaps new adult? I would encourage everyone to read it as it is written very well, the characters are loveable, great engaging story line, and it also offers a slightly different perspective on topics such as being transgender and identifying with a gender, and the impacts on the whole family. It also poses some thoughts about the use of puberty blockers in such young kinds, which is an interesting thing to think about. I’d say this is an important read and an enjoyable, heartwarming one as well!
So that was my review! I will link the book here for you to grab yourself a copy if you wish! If you’ve read this book lmk your thoughts on it, if not grab yourself a copy!